‘Twas at the Siege of Vicksburg

Hanna and I took a field trip to St. Louis last Friday to see the Civil War in Missouri exhibit at the Missouri History Museum before it closes. It was nicely done with lots of information, artifacts and a number of interesting interactive touchscreen activities (that would in all honesty make great iPad apps). We discovered that we had been to many of the battlefields referred to in the exhibits, including Wilson’s Creek, Lexington, Pilot Knob, Pea Ridge (Arkansas), Shiloh (Tennessee), Vicksburg (Mississippi), and Gettysburg (Pennsylvania). A feature about James Eads’ ironclad warships reminded us that we had seen the USS Cairo during a family vacation.

The USS Cairo was sunk by a naval mine in 1862. Sections of the ironclad were recovered and reassembled at the Vicksburg National Military Park.

There is an interesting story leading up to our visit to Vicksburg. Like many good tales, it began long, long ago. Every family tree has its colorful characters; with a name like Jefferson Green Fields, my great-great-grandfather was predestined to be one. He had three known wives (with rumors of at least one more) documented through census files and marriage records. No divorce decrees have surfaced, thus it is possible that he was married to all three at the same time. JGF is known to have fought with the Confederate Army during the Civil War and later to have been a livery stable/general store owner as well as a circuit-riding Primitive Baptist minister.

Jefferson Green Fields
Jefferson Green Fields: Portrait of a Polygamist

I am a descendent of the second wife (family lore identifies her as Native American, but this is undocumented). In 2000 a grandson of the third wife contacted members of my family with an idea to reunite the descendents of JGF. He called it the “First Fields Family Union,” because never before having gotten the three branches together, it could not accurately be called a reunion. His idea was to meet the following summer in Memphis, Tennessee, where Jefferson Green Fields had enlisted in the Confederate army. My half-something-cousin-some-number-of-times-removed was also recruiting someone to write a paper about his experience in the War. Any guesses who volunteered?

I pored through Confederate payroll, parole and veterans records as well as books and websites about the Civil War. In summary, Jefferson Green Fields served as a teamster for the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery at the Siege of Vicksburg. At some point he was injured and hospitalized, but had returned to the battlefield by the time that General John C. Pemberton surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. JGF was taken prisoner and paroled. (Download the entire paper here.)

Phil and I thought it would be interesting to take the kids to Vicksburg before heading to Memphis. The Vicksburg National Military Park is huge, with memorials for every state with troops that fought there.

Missouri’s memorial is the only one dedicated to soldiers from both armies. Twenty-seven Union and fifteen Confederate units from Missouri fought at Vicksburg.

We found the spot overlooking the Mississippi River where the 1st Tennessee Heavy Artillery was encamped:

Joey (3), Hanna (13), Laura (5) and I enjoy the view at Vicksburg National Military Park, June 2001.

as well as a plaque commemorating JGF’s company.

Joey, Laura and I pose for an obligatory cannon photo in June 2001. The summer of 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Vicksburg.

On to Memphis and the “Family Union.” (Sort of, anyway; descendents of the first branch declined to participate.) My paper was well-received by those who did attend, but an even bigger treat was in store for us. The 52nd Tennessee Regimental String Band was in town!

As Confederate reenactors, band members were both bemused and amused by the whole “Family Union” thing, but appreciated the explanation and treated us to a concert. Appropriately, they opened with ‘Twas at the Siege of Vicksburg.

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Note: The Civil War in Missouri exhibit at the Missouri History Museum closes June 2, however a traveling exhibit has scheduled stops in various Missouri cities and towns through 2015. See it if you have the chance.

Would you like a little cheese with that whine?


I came across this image during research for last week’s Rosie the Riveter post:


Now, that’s funny – Rosé the Riveter wine. Working Girl also offers Working Girl White, Go Girl Red, and Handyman Red. Too bad it’s not available in Missouri, but fortunately I now possess log-in information in case I want to make an online order.

I have a confession. I shop for wine by how interesting I find the label. The more artistic and quirky the label, the better. Since I’m in the mood for confession – I also shop by price. I have discovered plenty of decent inexpensive to moderately priced wines out there. Rarely will I pay more than $15 per bottle, but I have my limits on the low end, too. I tried Charles Shaw, aka “Two Buck Chuck,” and couldn’t drink it. I ended up using it and some herb-infused olive oil as a steak marinade.

Here are five of my favorite labels:

5. Benefactor Cellars


Trader Joe’s carries these Australian wines on a seasonal basis. They’re not great, but not awful either, and at just $5 per bottle, a lot of fun for Halloween or Día de los Muertos festivities.

4. Big House


We have a local microbrewery called Prison Brews, so these wines piqued my interest, especially after perusing this stellar website. Big House features witty names – The Usual Subject, Cardinal Zin, Pinot Evil – and most varieties are also available in 3L boxes. The winery mails out temporary tattoos upon request. Can’t wait to get mine.

3. Middle Sister


I am a middle sister, so this line has special appeal for me. These wines have clever names such as Rebel Red, Drama Queen, Smarty Pants and Goody Two-Shoes. I haven’t tried them all yet and will probably skip the sweet ones and the Moscato. Middle Sister also maintains an outstanding website with loads of information, recipes, music, games and quizzes, and a bunch of images so that one doesn’t have to search all over the Internet for them.

2. Mad Housewife madhousewife

This has become my go-to wine. It’s fresh, fun, fruity and economical. Make that fresh, fun, fruity and frugal for fellow fans of alliteration. I prefer the merlot and cabernet over the chardonnay, but the white zinfandel is my favorite during warm weather months. It’s not too dry and not too sweet, but juuuust right.

Mad Housewife also has an entertaining website with recipes, contests and a store. You can even collect corks to redeem for Mad Housewife merchandise. I already have the tee shirts so I am currently saving up corks for their stylin’ apron.

1. Little Hills Winery


German immigrants found the climate and rolling hills of Missouri to be very similar to the homeland left behind; as a result we enjoy more than our fair share of wineries. Little Hills Winery is charming, award-winning, and its proprietor just happens to be my high school classmate David Campbell. The restaurant, tasting room and gift shop are located just down a cobblestone street from the first state capitol building in historic downtown St. Charles. It’s well worth a trip, but if that is not feasible Little Hills wines are available for online purchase. These wines are definitely worth suspending my sub-fifteen guideline.

Fun With Rosie the Riveter

Last week Laura created a PowerPoint presentation about World War II propaganda for her history class. Not surprisingly, one of the images she included was the iconic 1943 poster of Rosie the Riveter:

Vintage Image of the "We can do it!" Rosie the Riveter Poster by

Saturday – aka Star Wars Day – I found a fun Rosie parody to post on Laura’s Facebook wall:

May the Fourth Be With You.

Naturally, this led me to wonder what other interesting parodies are out there. Turns out, quite a few. While I did not find one for Star Trek (I expected Lieutenant Uhura), here are some of my faves:

We Can Do It! Rosie the Riveter
You bet we can! I’ll take all the ideas I can get.

Hunger Games:

I can’t quite figure this out. Since there is only one Hunger Games victor, maybe the tagline should read “I Can Do It!” But perhaps it is foreshadowing for the rebellion, in which case “We Can Do It!” is perfectly appropriate.

Wonder Woman:

Really, Wonder Woman? Where is your girl power?


Anti-pacifier propaganda? Who knew?


Grammar alert! Everyone needs to do her part.
Be careful, or this could happen to you.


Peep Riveter
Of course they can. They’re indestructible.


Recreating an iconic poster with an iconic toy.

Sara the Riveter:

Despite a diligent search I could not find this 2012 Facebook app developed by the Ad Council. I very much wanted to Rosify Myself, so I did the next best thing and performed an old-fashioned X-acto knife cut and paste.

Pink Power:

I saved the best for last.